Hey guys! Please note that a podcast element has been added to the blog yay!! So if you find yourself unable to read at the time you can take a listen 🙂 there will also be elements in either format which make it different from the other. Here’s today’s content:
It must have happened to you before. You hear that someone is getting a promotion or being given an honourable task to complete and you pause for a moment. You wrinkle your nose, you raise your eyebrow and you wonder: “why him?” or her as the case may be. You can rattle off a series of reasons why this person would be the worst selection for the job based on their glaring incapability. Perhaps you can think of several persons more fitting for the post. You calculate in your head and arrive at conclusions. Yes, this person is the right make and model. It must be them. Imagine your surprise when your last pick steps forth to receive some sort of merit. Shock? For some even horror? How could the powers that be act so irresponsibly? We start examining all the ways they can possibly run whatever institution into the ground.
While we may see the logic in that approach and often there is, God does not make decisions on what appeals to the wisdom of man. He chooses people who appear to be the worst possible fit for a task more than we would believe.
Why? The following reasons might give us some insight.
- He’s looking on the inside.
Have you ever heard the expression “it’s important to make a good first impression”? It’s something that matters immensely in the work world. We put our best foot and face forward because we need to impress our employers or whatever influential figure we come before. When it comes to winning events like pageants, patrons are looking for particular traits. They need to see signs of beauty based on the status quo in a winner. As a result, so many women put themselves under pressure to look the part, to lose weight, to train waists, among many other expensive ventures. Some people when looking for a prospective spouse need a man to fit the “tall, dark and handsome” pre-requisites or the “hourglass” figure in a woman. People are always making decisions based on appearances. The folk from Bible times were no different. When Samuel was instructed to visit the house of Jesse, he was in search of a new king of Israel. Even Samuel, the man of God, was certain that Eliab must be suited for kingship because of his stature. Nevertheless, the Lord states to Samuel that He does not see as man sees. Man is always looking at the outer appearance while God is looking at the heart. While the crowd may have been tantalised by Eliab’s powerful appearance what mattered more to the Lord was David’s integrity of heart before Him to love, follow, obey and execute accordingly. It did not matter that he was a lowly, young shepherd boy in the back lands watching sheep his status did not determine his destiny, his heart did.
- No past is too terrible for His redemption.
Track records matter. You’re not going to want to naively walk into a business partnership with someone who has a history of fraud and theft. We must always use wisdom in our negotiations. Sometimes we become so picky in our expectations we refuse to give people a chance after they have messed up or made mistakes even if they are genuinely remorseful. No past is too terrible for God’s redemption. He can take the vilest of offenders and transform their lives entirely. People who are open to the change He brings are ideal candidates for His service. Consider the Prodigal son. He had left home and squandered his inheritance and was too ashamed to return home because of what he had done. When he was finally able to pick himself up and return, he realised that his father’s love for him was not based on what he had or did. He simply desired for his son to come back home and take up his rightful place as a son.
Paul had a terrible past which consisted of persecuting the Christians even unto death. One important trait to note in Paul’s activity is his relentless zeal. After his conversion he redirected His zeal to supporting the churches and rescuing the lost. This is a reminder that we can count others out because of what they have done, we may even be counted out ourselves or count others out. But God will use those who are willing and zealous about Him and whose actions come from an outflow of their love for Him.
- He reminds us that there is always a bigger picture than just us
Take the story of Rahab into consideration. When Joshua commissioned spies to survey the land, they took refuge in the inconspicuous location of a prostitute’s house. It was soon discovered that there were outsiders in the land of Jericho and the king wanted them found and killed. The men of God ended up with their lives in the hands of a prostitute. While our confused gazes will indicate that she was not a fitting candidate to rescue the men, God used her to not only deliver the men but to save her family. Further, Rahab’s obedience and availability resulted in her becoming the mother of Boaz, the great-grandmother of David and the ancestor of Jesus. How does a prostitute end up in the bloodline of Christ? Because God is looking for something different from what we are.
There is a level of entitlement we must avoid as Christians. We have a tendency to believe that if we have our ducks in order we deserve to be favoured by God. While He does reward those who seek Him diligently and He does esteem righteousness, when we begin thinking about what we deserve from God we enter a wrong road. God does not elevate us because of how great we are. All of us have wonderful strengths and talents but service to God is never a competition (another blog post altogether). The story is told in Luke 18:13 of the publican who came to God to brag about how great he was. He listed off all the things he did correctly. He fasted, he tithed, he was not an evil doer – surely he was the perfect candidate for God to smile upon. However, it was the tax collector who cried, “Lord have mercy upon me a sinner!” who ended up more justified before God.
Sometimes we develop a heart of offense when it appears that God is propelling someone less deserving or less capable further ahead of us. But I daresay that if we see our brothers’ triumphs this way, there is something wrong with our outlook. If God had to measure us all against each other based on worthiness He would not be able to choose one of us because none of us could present ourselves as blameless and perfect in our own accord. What we are failing to see is that there is a much, much bigger picture than getting our own individual forward. When all that’s in our view is ourselves, we have become small-minded in our vision. The moment we take up this attitude God will humble us in the near future. No matter what we must retain a posture of right-heartedness before God. Sometimes a “why him?” is an opportunity for us to note who we need to forgive or the pride pedestal we should step down from or the selfishness that we prioritise or the people we have wronged.
It is so important for me to point out here that it is the church’s responsibility to judge in the facility of flushing the practice of sin out of the church and cutting down measures that encourage its growth. Grace is not available in abundance to encourage us to sin much more. However, it is available for us to conduct ourselves with longsuffering towards each other and sometimes even towards ourselves. I am not at all suggesting that we vie for complacency either.
God is not conducting a job interview for a trophy candidate. Yes, it is important to live a pure life before God and one that honours Him but this must be driven by love not by deeds. We must avoid idolising individuals so much that we cannot see the light of Christ in someone else “less worthy”. Ephesians 2:22 reminds us that God has made us alive in Him even when we were dead in our transgressions and saved us by grace. All of us are being built up together in a dwelling where God will live. We are all lending to a joint objective and a mutual mission and at the end of it the purpose is the glory not of ourselves as individuals but of Christ and sometimes to do that He uses the worst of us.